So You’ve Got An App, Now What?

Last week Playbill launched their new app which is making the first steps towards revolutionising the theatrical customer experience. But why stop with an app that simply provides information, pictures and nearby restaurant recommendations? I have some ideas for this app’s next steps.

Let’s start with your existing audience. Customer experience has never been very digital in the theatre. While audiences at rock concerts, sports games and arena spectaculars are posting videos and photos from their #amazing experience, theatrical audiences are still using simple word of mouth to tell ten of their closest friends. But that doesn’t mean that a bit of a digital impact won’t make their experience better.

Entertainment tourism is becoming an important consideration for shows. In New York, only 30% of the audiences come from the local surrounds. Despite a few shows venturing to the very southernmost capital city in Australia, many audiences outside Melbourne and Sydney are flying in to see a big blockbuster. Audiences are increasingly travelling to see exciting entertainment . . . so why not become their all in one app?

This playbill app could easily become a travel planner. Log on, check out the shows currently playing, book some tickets and then get recommendations for nearby accommodation and suggested flights. The app also requests permission for notifications so why not incorporate a journey planner? Notifications 24 hours before your trip begins. Pop-up dinner suggestions two hours out from a night-time musical.

But what about the new audiences? It is great to enhance the experience of current audiences, but the lack of digital integration is a big determinant driving away new audiences. So let’s fix it with some strong digital pulls.

Audiences could live post about their experience straight to their social media accounts. You could have in-theatre chat rooms where audience members could comment before, during or after a show on the performance to create an online community (which also helps facilitate recommendations). Content could even be transmitted mid-show as characters in more modern shows rely on digital communications that actually appear on your phone adding a whole additional layer to the experience. These possibilities are endless.

The digital industry is growing exponentially and the amount of technology at our fingertips continues to innovate and advance itself every day. This Playbill app is the first step towards integrating the theatre, so why not dream big and bring this constantly innovating art form into the age of digital innovation?